Isle News, 7 May 2009 – The local business community will learn how to survive a possible flu pandemic, at a free presentation on Monday.
Business continuity specialists MSD International are already making plans for a second session due to the high level of interest in their flu pandemic presentation, from both the public and private sector. Dick Bush, Managing Director, explained: ‘Pandemic flu affects people, not computers or buildings, so most organisations would struggle. Contingency planning revolves around making the most of the people available.’ He added: ’For most staff, the health of their families will be the top priority, so you cannot assume that only the sick will stay away in a pandemic. That could suddenly leave a company critically short-staffed. That’s too late to start making a plan.’
Entitled ‘Pandemic Planning – The Business Continuity Issues’, the 90 minute presentation will be introduced by Dr Steven Bridgman, Guernsey’s Director of Public Health, and will examine the emerging pandemic threat, as well as the main types of flu and their associated health risks before analysing the business continuity issues. Mr Bush said that organisations need to be realistic: ‘It’s a difficult threat for people to grasp. The temptation is to either over react or to convince yourself the whole thing’s a false alarm. Neither option is good for business.’
Mr Bush said that firms must remain focussed on the threat: ‘Flu pandemics typically take time before their effects are really felt. The devastating H1N1 outbreak of the early twentieth century was around for several months before it disappeared and then returned as a pandemic that claimed the lives of millions. As one health expert said recently, “if this is a mild wave then we’ve dodged the bullet; but the gun is still loaded and pointing our way”.’
Mr Bush added: ‘It’s a good time to start thinking about next winter. We must not let complacency take over from prudence.’
MSD International is a people-centred business continuity consultancy which has been training businesses in how best to cope with a flu pandemic since 2006, when avian flu was identified as a potential threat (see note 1). To date there have been there have been 421 cases and 257 deaths from the bird flu virus worldwide.
Admission to the presentation is free. It will take place at the Mallard Complex, in the Forest, starting at 3 p.m. on Monday 11 May 2009. A few places are still available. Call Kerry Dussold (tel. 265999) for reservations. A second session will be scheduled for the same day, if required.